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Keeping Your Plants Fruitful

On The Early Show, gardening guru Charlie Dimmock gave the following tips on how to maintain a small crop of vegetables during the summertime.

TOMATOES: You must continually tie them in, or they'll flop over. You need to take the side shoots out. You can just snip larger ones. Smaller ones that grow in the leaf axles can be rubbed out between your fingers. Flowers and the fruit only really develop on the main stem, so you don't want all that other vegetative growth on the sides.

LETTUCE: Traditionally, you'd let it fill out and then cut the whole thing. Now the trend is to pick all the leaves off individually. That way, you won't have to keep re-sowing the lettuce, and you get a continual supply of really young fresh leaves.

SPINACH: Continually pick spinach leaves. The young leaves, you can use in salads. The older leaves, you need to cook. The main reason for continually picking, though, is to stop it from flowering. Otherwise, it stops producing leaves.

ONIONS: Onions are one of the first things that are ready to pick. Once the foliage starts going brown, push over the main stems and just let them ripen in the sun, Once you've dug them up or pulled them up, just put them out somewhere airy to dry right off, because if you put them into storage in that condition, they'll rot.

ROOT VEGETABLES: With all root vegetables like carrots and beetroot, you need to thin them by taking out the very weak seedlings. That allows the roots of the carrots or the beetroot to develop. The other thing to remember about beetroot is the very young leaves are very nice in salads.

PLUMS: When you have a lot of fruit on your plum tree, you want to keep it. But, in fact, you're better off reducing the number. That way, there won't be so much stress on the tree and you also get bigger, juicier fruits. You want to reduce them by about a third.

STRING BEANS: The more you pick them, the more you get. The one thing, though, with string beans is you need to spray the flowers if it's a very dry summer. If you don't spray them with water, then you won't get any beans.

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